Helen Mah joined the Ontario Chapter of the GDC as a Professional member in 1982. It was only after an invitation in 1992 from then-VP and Accreditation Task Force co-ordinator Albert Ng to attend several board meetings to find out more about his goal to achieve professional accreditation for graphic designers that Mah became aware of this new initiative. She agreed to help out by serving as a board member. She also took on the responsibilities of Treasurer and Membership Chair when those roles went unfilled. In 1994, she became a member of the Professional Accreditation Committee, serving on the Steering Committee and as co-chair of the Fundraising Committee.
During 1995, Mah continued her duties as Treasurer, participated in a subsequent membership drive, organized and promoted a PAGD roundtable discussion at the Design Exchange, and organized a reception to officially thank sponsors of PAGD. She also wrote and designed a series of awareness-building print ads which promoted PAGD in trade magazines such as Applied Arts, Graphic Arts Monthly, Step-by-Step Graphics, and Carrot. Continuing to build awareness for PAGD, Mah put together an article that appeared in the January 1996 issue of Step-by-Step Graphics. Mah declined payment for the article, and instead donated ad space for an ad promoting PAGD. The article elicited strong response from both American and Canadian designers.
Mah applied for two Ontario Arts Council grants on behalf of the Ontario chapter. The PAGD grant application was not successful (not in their mandate to support accreditation) but OAC did support the 40th Anniversary Type Exposition with a $7500 grant.
In March 1996 after first reading of the proposed Act, Mah worked with other board members to organize an exclusive fundraising dinner to build anticipation around the passing of the Act. A videotape recording of the reading in Ontario’s legislature was viewed by all the dinner participants.
After the passing of Bill Pr56 and the creation of the new Association, Mah served as a founding board member and its first Treasurer. Along with the other founding members, she contributed to the drafting of the By-law and the establishment of the tangible symbols of accreditation (certificate of registration and numbered embossing seal for the Registered Graphic Designer and R.G.D. designations).
In April 1997 a Members‚ Reception was held in order to update members on the developments of accreditation. Mah contributed by locating and securing the site, invitation design and donor of the door prize (Umax colour scanner). Mah continues to support professional accreditation for graphic designers.
Born in Ontario, Helen Mah graduated in 1974 with high honours from the graphic design program at Sheridan College, Oakville. In 1979 she completed a post-graduate summer program with Prof Muriel Cooper at the Visible Language Workshop, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.